Well, if you're in an abusive relationship, don't miss today's conversation on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. It is a pattern of narcissistic, disrespectful, and harmful behavior exhibited by one person in an intimate relationship. Bottom line is it's one person slowly destroying another person. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . When the abuse starts, you need to get to safety. That's what Dr. David Clark says in his new book, Enough is Enough, and you'll hear this important discussion on the program today. The subtitle of Dr. Clark's book is A Step-By-Step Plan to Leave an Abusive Relationship with God's Help.
Just go to FiveLoveLanguages.com to find out more. Gary, this is one of the most important topics I think we're going to air this year or any other. What do you think? Well, Chris, I think so, because many of us do not realize how many people are living with an abusive spouse, and sometimes they have gotten the advice that you just sit there and take it. I'm not sure that that's the loving thing to do, and I'm glad we're going to talk about this today.
I'm excited about our conversation. Dr. David E. Clark is a Christian psychologist speaker, the author of 15 books, including I Don't Want a Divorce, My Spouse Wants Out, and I Don't Love You Anymore. He's a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary as well. He's been in private practice for more than 30 years, focusing on marriages in crisis. He and his wife, Sandy, live in Tampa, Florida.
They have four children, four grandchildren. You can find out more about him and our featured resource at FiveLoveLanguages.com. Again, the book is Enough is Enough.
Just go to FiveLoveLanguages.com. Well, Dr. Clark, welcome to Building Relationships. Well, thank you. It's my great privilege to be here. Now, you're a licensed counselor, and you've been working with women in abusive relationships for 35 years. Why did you feel compelled to write this particular book? Gary, I really felt like, and I don't just feel like I know this is a major problem, abuse, not just in the secular society, but also in the church. The numbers, in fact, are pretty much the same.
And I didn't see any book where it was clearly defined, abuse is clearly defined, and biblically it is explained why you can get out, that God wants you to get out, and then exactly how to get out. So I'm a practical person. I'm a hands-on guy. I led a lot of ladies and some men through this.
I thought, you know what? I'm going to write a book that just spells it out. So that's why I did it. I want to be clear, and I want to help them out. Now, in the early years of your ministry, did you think that you would be where God has led you at this juncture in your counseling?
No, not at all. I was trained to be an individual therapist. That's what I did. But nobody else would give me a job. My dad, Bill Clark, who just passed, wonderful father, passed a few months ago. He gave me a job, and his practice was entitled Marriage and Family Enrichment Center. So, hey, all of a sudden, I'm a marriage counselor. And so I learned, and I've been doing that now for 35 years, working with marriages in crisis. So you know what?
I guess I blame my dad, but God knew what he was doing. This is, I think, what I'm good at. I'm active, I'm directive, I have a plan, so it's worked out great.
Well, that's great. You know, I think often God kind of pushes us into an area where we were not anticipating him. But it's good, because he was anticipating it. He knows. He knows what he's doing.
Absolutely. Give us a working definition of abuse. Okay, here's what it is.
I worked hard on this, I'm very proud of it, but I believe it's accurate. It is a pattern, in fact, a never-ending pattern. Not once in a while, or he had a bad day. A pattern of narcissistic, disrespectful, and harmful behavior exhibited by one person in an intimate relationship. Bottom line is, it's one person slowly destroying another person. That's the bottom line.
Yeah. Now, physical abuse, which we often think about, it's horrific for the spouse. But emotional abuse can also leave deep, deep scars. Now, how does a spouse emotionally abuse the other spouse? There's a number of ways, and it's usually not just one area, Gary, as you know.
It's a number of areas. Verbal abuse is always part of the package, typically. Ongoing criticism about so many things. Your weight, your attractiveness, your housekeeping, your activity in the bedroom, how you raise the kids, on, on, never-ending drumbeat of criticism. Your needs are neglected. In fact, for the narcissist, and most abusers are narcissists, your needs don't even reach his radar screen. All about him.
He won't communicate, he won't listen to any topic that you want to talk about. You're given the silent treatment for days, weeks on end, there's control, there's anger, there's, sometimes there's actual physical violence, there's addiction. And the bottom line is, I mean, the hallmark is, everything's your fault. That's what it looks like.
I mean, everything. Yeah. Now, I assume that the biggest percentage of abuse is male against female. But now wives can abuse husbands as well, right? Oh, they can. It can go the other way.
In my experience, it's about 80-20, at least in my practice, and the pastors and people I know across the country, Christian therapists. But there's 20%, maybe 25, where the woman is the one who is the abuser. Maybe a characterological disorder, she's spent thrift, or she's just vicious, she's got her own issues, and so it's the guy who's thinking, oh my goodness, I am just being laid out.
So yeah, it can go the other way. Yeah, I remember a husband who said, he said, Doc Chapman, he said, we've been married eight years, and I can't remember a single day in eight years that my wife hasn't criticized me. And he said, I'm coming to you, he said, because I know that when I tell her what I'm about to do, she's going to call you. And I just want you to know where I'm coming from.
Well, that's it in a nutshell. She did, she did call me. And when I shared with her, you know, what he said to me, she said, I was just trying to help him. This was constructive criticism.
Oh, she did. Oh my goodness. Dr. Clark, you gave this word, this great big word, narcissist and narcissism. For those who are listening who don't know what that is, is that just an intense self-focus? It's actually a lot more than that. This is a characterological disorder, and our society is churning out narcissists like never before. Social media has, I think, has fueled this.
If I see one more picture of somebody's food they ate for lunch, I think I'm going to scream. I mean, it's just all about me. It's a tremendous, absolute focus on self. No one else's needs make any difference. There is no empathy. There is no conscience. The driving force of this person is, I'm going to get what I want in this life.
Don't get in my way. So they marry for convenience, not for love, because they can only love themselves. They don't even love the Lord.
They might look good in church. It is all about me. And if you give me a problem, I'm going to tear you to pieces. So let me ask you one more question before we take a break. Why do people fall in love with somebody like this? Can't you see those warning signs ahead?
Well, two things. A lot of ladies I talk to, I'm sure Gary would agree, they see the warning signs, but they're damaged themselves, their dad was an abuser, they're used to it, and so they miss it. But the other truism is that these guys are consummate actors. They could have a room full of Oscars for their charming performance courtship-wise. They will fool you. This is the greatest guy in the world. He's the next Billy Graham. I'm just sure of it. And the day after the wedding, first week at the outside, totally different story behind closed doors.
So they're awfully good at fooling people. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Dr. David Clark is joining us today, and we're talking about his book, Enough is Enough, a step-by-step plan to leave an abusive relationship with God's help.
Just go to fivelovelanguages.com. Well, Dr. Clark, let's talk about the church and abuse. How has the church done with this issue through the last 35 years? Oh, my goodness. Two words. Not well.
It has just not been good. There are some exceptions. I'll grant some people, some godly pastors who get it, who understand the issue, but the vast majority, in fact, do not. Now, they're godly people. They love the Lord, but they've mishandled time and again the woman coming into their office and saying, Pastor Wright, here's what's happening.
I need help. And it's mishandled by the pastor and by the elders and the deacons, the leaders of the church. So many women just, they get abused again emotionally by the leaders of their church, and they never go back, of course, and ask for help, and they suffer in silence for decades. So what are the most common non-biblical and damaging approaches to marital abuse that are used by pastors and churches?
Here's the top ones, I think. You're going to be told you need to be submissive. I just told you that I'm being abused, but you're going to have to be submissive to this man because that's what the Bible teaches. Okay, well, you don't submit to sin like that. You're going to be told you're going to have to stay no matter what.
You've made your bed. Even if you and the kids are being destroyed and that's a problem, I'm sorry. You made a contract, it's a covenant, and you have to stay, not realizing God makes an exception, frankly, for this level of abuse. One of the standards is just keep on loving him and he'll change. That works with a decent loving man, of course, a godly man. It does not work with an abuser. In fact, it enables him. They'll tell you it's not abuse.
It will be redefined, it'll be minimized. This is really not happening, a form of denial. And then ultimately, and this happens in so many Christian circles, you know, dear woman, it's your fault that he treats you so badly. Oh my goodness, those are all wrong and very hurtful and, frankly, abusive in their own right. Well, I'm certain that you've heard many stories of pastors and churches covering up abuse, which you've just described. Why do you think this happens? Why do so many pastors, this is pretty much the normal pattern for them?
I've talked to a number of these pastors, and, of course, we disagree on this, but I think this is what's happening. It's a form of denial, number one. They don't want to face that it's abuse, because if it is abuse, they'll have to do something about it. And, frankly, they're weak, more passive people.
They don't want to have to confront the abuser. He's maybe well-known in the church, he's well-respected, he maybe has fooled them already, and so that's part of the package, too. Hey, this is a great guy. I don't believe you, ma'am, what you're saying. He's on the finance committee, he serves communion.
Look, what can I tell you? And then, of course, it's like the boys' club in so many churches, especially conservative churches. I've seen this time and time again. Men are protected, husbands are protected, and the wife is thrown under the bus.
It's like a guys' club. We're going to side with the guy here. That's not what God wants you to do, but that's what I see happening.
Yeah. Well, let's look at the biblical perspective, or God's perspective. What does the Scriptures really teach, and how does God feel about abuse in a marriage? Oh, man, he is angry at the abuser.
Oh, yes, he is. Abuse is an intolerable sin to God. We see this in Malachi 2, just one example, where God speaks incredibly harshly to abusive husbands who are tossing their wives aside for foreign women for no good reason.
Very harsh language there. It's a damaging sin, it's an awful sin, and of course it's a serious violation of God's design for marriage. Genesis 2.24, one flesh, it destroys that. Ephesians 5.25, I repeated that to husbands and wives for 35 years.
The husband's job is to love the wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. You are so far short of that standard, sir, I've said to many men, that's followed by them slamming out of my office and slamming three doors and clearing their car door and leaving the parking lot. And I'll tell the lady, okay, I thought he'd never leave. Let's you and I start working on what you can do to get away from this monster.
So God is, and God's on our side, absolutely on our side. Now, in a situation like that, I think the normal question that people are asking is, can he change? Will he change? Is there something we can do to help him change? Yeah, well, it's four to six percent.
The numbers are low. However, biblically, we give the abuser a bona fide chance to change. Now, for a position of safety, you leave, you and your kids leave, it may take months to prepare, but you're out, and you're giving them the message, I'm done, leave me alone.
A man's response, when he loses his woman, a man's response to that will tell you everything you need to know. He has an opportunity, it will take him seven, eight, nine months to work on himself, to figure out the abuse, to become a man of God, to correct all the damage he's done, and talk to people that he's character assassinated you to, all that, so he has a chance. And there are some that will, I never know who's going to do it and who's not, but it's always a position of strength and security, and you've left him.
Yeah. Now, what's the biblical support for separating from an abusive spouse? We have clear teaching in Scripture, and we also have clear examples. God, I think, has made this very clear. You won't hear this from any pulpits, but it's the truth. When a sinner will not, when a serious sinner will not repent, you are to have no social contact with that person. That's Matthew 18, 17.
We see it again. Romans 16, 17. Shun those who cause divisions. 1 Corinthians 5 makes it clear. There was a person in the church that was involved in serious sexual sin. He was to be ignored, and the people in the body having no contact with him.
If that happens to be your husband, okay, that's fine. This may not be sexual sin, but it's in the same category. 2 Thessalonians 3, 6. Keep away from anyone who is living a sinful lifestyle.
Then we have the example, and from a psychologist's point of view, it's spot on. It's God's abuse story in the Bible, Abigail and Nabal. She had no rights. He could have killed her in front of the entire community, and no one would have said a word.
Women had no rights in that day. However, with God's help and a secret plan and gathering provisions and thwarting her husband, she did it secretly. She went, she saved the household, she ends up with David, and God took Nabal out. I think it's a very clear example that God doesn't want you to stay with an abuser. Now, Dr. Clark, I know that what you've just said is raising a lot of questions in the lives and the minds of a lot of Christians, because they have heard the other side of stay there, the things you mentioned earlier, and they haven't heard this. So, what about the wife who's hearing this right now, and she's thinking, oh my, I've never heard this before.
I mean, what would you say to her right now? Well, I would say to anyone, search the Scriptures, and this book can be a helpful guide. I wouldn't recommend anything that's not God-directed, God-inspired.
And so, do your research. Don't just listen to Dave Clark. I mean, I believe I'm right, but I'm only right because I'm trying to be God's mouthpiece.
Dave Clark doesn't have any wisdom on his own. And then I would further say, look, if you choose to stay with this abuser, count the cost, and do you believe that God really wants you to be destroyed physically, emotionally, spiritually? Same thing for your children. And frankly, the abuser has no chance to change either, since you're enabling him. So there's a whole argument, of course, I cover in the book, where I'm making a very clear case to get out.
And it's not an easy thing to do, and there's a lot of resistance to it. I've never had a woman yet in my office who said, you know what, thank you for sharing, how can I get out? No, they fight me tooth and nail. Because, as you said, Gary, they don't, a lot of resistance, and the church has told this, and my pastor that, and I don't want to be divorced. I'll say, I don't want you to be divorced either.
I will never recommend divorce. Separation is a different story. So I've got to get her strong enough and healthy enough, even after she believes the scripture, that's the first step, of course.
Then, okay, I can, I think God wants me to, then she's got to do the work to get ready to go, and that will take her months. So, really, what you're saying, one of the things you're saying, is with her simply staying there, and just putting up with abusive behavior, she is enabling him to continue to be the ungodly person he is, and that's not love. Love doesn't enable. So I guess we could put it this way, that separating from an abusive husband is an act of love, if indeed you do it with that attitude. Oh, it absolutely is.
It is protecting you and your children, but also, it gives your husband, let's say the husband's the abuser, the only chance he's ever going to have to actually make the change, to break, repent, and if he commits himself to God, that's exactly what will happen. He has a lot of work to do, but yeah, I think it's very loving. It's tough love, but it's love. Let me tell our listeners, Enough is Enough is the title of our featured resource today.
If you go to FiveLoveLanguages.com, you can find out more. It's a step-by-step plan to leave an abusive relationship with God's help, and again, you can find it at FiveLoveLanguages.com. I have to ask this as I'm listening to you and Gary talk, Dr. Clark. What if the abusive person, what if the abusive spouse is the pastor? What do you do then? Yeah, boy, and I've had cases like that.
Oh, yes, I have. Wow, this is really difficult, because the wife will tell me, look, if I leave him, his ministry is over, to which I respond, it should be over, if what you told me is true, and I believe you. Now, I've had a few cases, this is extraordinary, but it's a God thing, where she left, she took the kid, she left, he was suspended from ministry, I'm sick of one guy in particular, and he went through a total brokenness, he stepped away from the church, he grew, he was actually restored to not just his wife and kids, but to the ministry.
That's what can happen. But if you're there, and I'm not too hard on these ladies initially, but I have to get there and say, look, you have to stand up for the body. You're not the only one that he's abusing.
This is leaking out into other areas as well. But it's a tough one. Oh my goodness, because I'm ending his job and his ministry.
You know what? Okay, yeah, you are. Actually, you're not doing it, he's doing that. You're just taking steps that are reasonable. Yeah, I think if women can come to see that it is an act of love, you know, I've often put it like this, I love you too much to stay here and let you destroy me and the kids.
Therefore, I'm going to. And she tells him what she's going to do. That way, if she understands it's an act of love, then it's easier for her to take that step than if she sees it as an act of, you know, I'm going to get out of here because I can't take this anymore. That's true too, no question about that.
But if she understands it's an act of love, and above all else, we're challenged to love each other. What is the best thing I can do for my husband at this point, right? Oh, I like that. I like that a lot, Gary.
It's right on the mark, right. This is actually the best possible thing for all concerned, including the abuser, because he might change. He's going to be, and you know before God, I've done everything I can. Yeah, yeah. And whenever he is faced with losing his wife, it will be, you said this, it will be the strongest motivation for him to get help.
Oh yeah, I told a couple of ladies just earlier today, with phone advice sessions that I do, I said, look, in 35 years, never seen it different, when you lose your woman, at that point the right man will move heaven and earth to get her back. I would do whatever it took to keep my Sandy and to stay with her, but the wrong man won't do it. He'll blame you, he'll character assassinate, he will not change. Okay, that's your answer. That's your answer.
Yeah, yeah. And she, in that case, did not create a divorce. He created a divorce. Right, he has, yes, he's destroyed the marriage.
Oh yeah, he'll blame you, but the hapilote, he did it. So what you're doing then is, you're just exposing what is, you're bringing into the light, by deciding to leave, you're bringing into the light what the truth is, that you can't put under a bushel basket anymore. Is that what you're saying?
That's exactly right. We are revealing truth, which is also scriptural. Oh yeah, now he will lie, he will deceive, he will distort, and I tell these ladies, look, his reaction will just simply confirm that you've done the right thing. He will run to the pastor, who's his buddy, let's say, and these guys lie, and they believe their own lies, they're very persuasive, he'll turn your own kids against you. He absolutely will. I've seen this happen hundreds of times.
That's why getting out sooner is better than later. So he'll try, but him, the very act of doing that will make it very clear, you know what, yeah, that's who he is. Because you know the truth, and God knows the truth. Maybe nobody else does, but that's enough.
Let me follow up with that. Is there a danger in calling abuse for something that's not abuse, and getting out too soon, meaning that the infraction here is not really abuse, there is something that you feel is abuse, you know what I'm asking. Oh, I do, and it's a great question. That's why the first six chapters of this book, and Moody helped me with this, very carefully defining abuse and what it is and what it's not. This is not just an unhappy marriage, or we have problems, he's got an issue.
No, it's destruction, and it's specific elements. So I cover that very carefully, because I don't want anybody to, and there will be some people who will use it as an excuse when it's simply not true. And having said that, most of these ladies have gone decades, not just a couple of months or two or three years, 10, 15, 20, 25 of just awful ongoing abuse. They're not lying about it, but they even struggle with it. They don't want to admit that it's abuse, because denial is so strong.
My job, I'm like a hammer, that's why I'm pounding the table here in my office. I'm going to break through that and make you believe it is abuse. Then you have to do something about it. But there's also guilt that comes along with that.
If this is abuse, why didn't I see it earlier? And then she beats herself up for that. Oh yeah, these ladies, these dear souls are so hard on themselves, and they're just used to being blamed, and it's still my fault. I say, you know what, you're ahead of the game, you're still alive, you're still in the ballgame, God loves you. And so, yeah, we have to get them past that false guilt, because that's what it is. And they're so used to just saying, oh, how did I miss this? A lady yesterday was telling me on the phone, the red flags were there, Dr. Clark. How in the world?
They were red blankets. How did I miss it? I said, I just asked you about your upbringing. I know exactly why. Your dad is just like your soon-to-be ex-husband. That's what you learned. It's okay.
God is okay with that. Let's just do the right thing now. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find us online at 5lovelanguages.com. We have some great resources for you. You can hear a podcast of the program, download the Love Nudge app, and find out about our featured resource today. It's the book by Dr. David Clark, Enough is Enough, a step-by-step plan to leave an abusive relationship with God's help.
Just go to 5lovelanguages.com. Dr. Clark, what are some of the lies that Satan uses that causes a wife, a spouse, to stay in an abusive relationship? Here's something that I see a lot, Gary.
You'll be told by Satan, whispering this, as well as maybe a pastor or a Christian counselor, unfortunately. It's just his wounds from the past that are causing this kind of behavior. Well, my response would be, he can work on his past then.
That's a choice. He can work on that, and he can heal. You'll be told he has a chemical imbalance. My response is, no, he's just mean. I'm sorry.
There's no chemical stuff going on. And if there is, bipolar, you know, whatever, there's medication for that. He chooses not to take it. That's a choice. You'll be told very well, I need to forgive and reconcile. The response there, of course, biblically, is forgive, certainly. Reconcile? Oh, no.
No, no. That depends on the other person and if they'll change or not. And, of course, they want to believe. They'll tell me, oh, but Dr. Clark, he loves me. I'll say right away, no, he doesn't. And then they fight me on that and say, look at his behavior. Let's talk about what you just told me.
Boom, boom, boom. You couldn't prove in a court of law to any judge in the world that there's no evidence of him loving you. He loves himself.
So these are lies that just perpetuate keeping ladies in this stuck position of just being hammered day in and day out. You know, I want to pick up on that forgiveness thing because in Matthew 18, you know the passage where Jesus said, If your brother sins against you, you go to him. And if he repents, you forgive him.
If he doesn't, you take somebody with you and go to him again. And if he doesn't repent, then you tell the church. And the implication is the church will send somebody with you. And then if he doesn't repent, Jesus did not say forgive him. Jesus said treat him as a pagan. Right, right.
Are you with me? And so I like to use the word release. You release him to God or you release her to God. Because forgiveness in the Bible, it seems to me, tell me if you think I'm right, forgiveness is always a response to an apology.
It's just true with God. You know, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. God doesn't forgive everybody. He forgives those who confess their sins. No, I like that.
You know, I've found that word release is much more meaningful. And it's really what Jesus did. You know, Peter said about Jesus, when they reviled against him, he didn't revile back. He committed himself to the Father.
He just turned the whole thing over to the Father. Give some thought to that one. No, I agree. I guess I call it release forgiveness. I think we're talking about the same thing.
She's divorced or she's away from the guy and separated. The Bible says I have to forgive. It's okay. We're not going to reconcile. There's reconciliation forgiveness.
No, he's not asking. I know. But you're going to work through the wounds and you're going to release him exactly. And that's all you can do. You can do that on your own. You don't need his help for that because he's not going to help you. So you're doing that for yourself for the process so that you're not drinking the poison all the time that he's not drinking.
You're releasing him in order to free yourself up from that shackle, right? Right. Oh, and these ladies, when they get... I'm pretty good at getting people angry.
I think it's a gift. Anyway, there's a righteous anger that they do need to tap into because of all the abuse and how could I have put up with this. And they don't go near him, but I have him write things out. We talk it out in session. We go through situations where there's the empty chair.
He's sitting there. Oh, and it's just like a volcano just pouring out. And that's healthy. That's a step to releasing so it doesn't affect you and keep poisoning you.
Yeah. In the book, you talk about four key action steps to take before you separate from an abuser. Take some time and walk us through those. First of all, you don't do this alone. You've got to have it. I call it a team of warriors.
This is not something you do freelancing. Abigail didn't do that. You find a local... Of course, God's on your team. He's the main one, of course, always. He'll always be with you, supporting, giving you strength, guiding you, sustaining you through the Holy Spirit's power. But if you find a local pastor that gets it, that understands what's happening, if yours doesn't, then find another one. You may stay in your church just for now because of the kids and you don't want to tip your hand, but you find somebody... There'll be a local pastor in your area that gets it. You find him.
That's the church you're going to go to probably once you leave. An accountability partner is critical. Tell family and friends the truth. These ladies have kept us a secret behind closed doors for decades, years. So you tell them the truth. Now, especially a dad, you're not going to have them confront your abuser yet because that would tip your hand. This is a secret plan, but let them know what's happening and they'll be on board.
Small group can be helpful. You'll need a tough family law attorney for the ins and outs, even for a legal separation and what money you can take and what money you can't take. Custody issues and then, of course, a tough Christian therapist, someone, frankly, like me who gets it, like Gary who gets it, who can understand who's not going to do marriage counseling because we're not doing that.
We're doing you getting stronger. That's the first thing. Then emotional health is very important. These ladies have just been stripped of self-esteem. Their identity is shattered.
They have to rebuild before they can ever think about leaving. So work on the codependency. Stop. Even in small ways, you can stop enabling your abuser. Get in touch with that righteous anger. Tell your husband, if you're able to do this, even financially, I'm going to see the pastor or a Christian therapist, someone who gets it.
I'm working on me. The abuser will be fine. He thinks you're nuts anyway and you're the problem, so he'll probably be okay with that. The truth is you're working to get strong enough to leave him.
He doesn't have to know that. Third piece is financial health. This is critically important.
That's what the family law attorney is for. You start your own personal account. You start putting money in it. You need a war chest. Do you need training?
Do you need a job? If you're a stay-at-home mom, you've got to get yourself prepared. Of course, the attorney will tell you what you can expect in terms of temporary support and this and that, and what money you can take before you leave. So this is a key piece because you're moving on and you want to be able to support yourself. And then finally, and this is of course very important for moms especially and dads, you've got to get your kids ready to leave. You've got to prepare them the best way you can. This will be a shock to their systems. They're used to the abusive situation and you putting up with it, so you have to kind of prepare them and start teaching them truth in small bits as part of getting them to understand, oh, this is why mom has to leave.
If you suddenly leave and they don't know why, they'll blame you. We don't want that. So those are the four key points. Now, Clark, you just said he thinks you're nuts. So what you're telling, if this is the wife, and 80 percent you said this is the wife's situation, he thinks you're crazy. The key for her then is to not believe him. You have to believe you're not crazy, all the gaslighting and the manipulation that he has done.
You have to believe the truth about this and be centered in that in order to take the steps that you just talked about. Is that true? That's exactly true. Yep. And when I have a lady, when she's first seeing me, oh yeah, she has drunk the poison. She believes it's her fault.
She has gone with it. The abuser certainly convinces you of that. Satan's on the job. Your own children can turn against you.
The pastor, maybe some counselor told you. No. So she's got to rework her mind and realize, okay, it's not my fault. It's his fault.
Exactly. I say the only fault for you, ma'am, and God forgives you and we're going to move on here, and we understand why it happened, is you've been tolerating it. Okay, we're bringing that to a close. But yeah, she's in no way ready. I'd love for the lady to leave today.
Well, she can't do that. All the preparation's important, and her thinking clearly and biblically is critical. I think wives who are living in an abusive situation and hear what you just said will understand how helpful this book can be, because you lay these four steps out and ideas on how to process all of this.
I think you're right. I don't know of another book out there that does this in an open, honest, loving, caring manner. So I think what you're doing in this book is a great service to ladies who are in abusive situations. Well, thanks for saying so. That means a lot coming from Dr. Gary Chapman.
It does. I love this, but there are situations, Dr. Clark, somebody's listening today, she's got a black eye. She has a broken wrist. She and the kids have been abused. All of those things that you just put out, get counseling and get people behind you and financial, there are some situations where you simply have to get in the car and go.
Is that true? Oh, yeah, absolutely. Physical violence. Oh, yeah. I had a lady who lost an eye because she stayed. I wanted her to leave, did everything we could, but the guy beat her up again. Now, at that point, she left. Oh, yeah. We're going to have to speed this up.
We're going to have to circle the wagons. Yeah, you're leaving now, and you're going to call the cops. I don't want to call the police.
My husband's job. I don't care about that. You need a protective order, so there's a lot of aggressive moves. Yeah, if there's a violent situation, oh, no question. We're going to get you out, and then all this stuff happens, whether it's a woman's shelter or a place to live. It's a speeded-up situation, but we're getting here. That's where a church is so incredibly important to protect and guide, and then all the healing will have to come after that. Yeah, but get out and get out today. And maybe this is partly why the church is afraid to do this type of thing.
If you're dealing with this type of person, then they could get violent, not just to the wife and the kids, but to other people who are trying to intervene. So there's a cost to this all around, isn't there? Oh, yeah. You know what? I'll tell pastors, you need to man up.
Look, I'm sorry. Yeah, there's risk here, but you know what? We're protecting someone. God is fully capable of protection, but yeah, these are scary guys. Oh, yeah, the violent people. Oh, yeah. And whoever helps his wife, oh, yeah, there's a list, and you're on it. But you know what?
Not to do it is actually sin. To turn the other way, when someone's in the road, broken, bleeding, no, no. We have to step up, and we have to help.
And if we have a group, yeah, then the guy will typically back off and go down the road. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . You can find simple ways to strengthen relationships on our website, fivelovelanguages.com. Dr. David Clark is joining us today, and you'll see his book linked at our site. It's titled Enough is Enough, a step-by-step plan to leave an abusive relationship with God's help.
Find out more at fivelovelanguages.com. Dr. Clark, we talked in our last session about steps to take before you're moving out of an abusive relationship. Now, let's say that the wife has actually physically moved out of the house, and if they have children, the children are with her. What do you do after you separate from the abuser? First month is really very minimal contact with the abuser, and only through your selected intermediaries. You're going to have nothing to do with them. You're going to work through other people.
This first month is critical so you and the kid can get settled and kind of begin building your new life, plus we're putting pressure, frankly, on the abuser. You're not kidding. The message to him is your wife is done through your pastor or your accountability partner. This is a big if. If he's making noises of actual repentance, he's in a rage, and he's blaming you, and I can't believe it.
Okay, you don't even bother. But if he's making noises of repentance, okay, then at that point, we go through a Matthew 18, 15-17 process that Gary mentioned earlier. Now we're going to give him an opportunity to change. The one caveat here is, and the attorney will help you, if there's children involved, he has every legal right, unless he's a violent person, to see the children. If you don't have a protective order, you'll work that out, and he can see the kids.
You're not going to prevent him from seeing the children. But that first month, he's going to about drive him nuts. He'll be blowing up your phone. He wants to get you back. He wants to get you back to really make you pay. So you just ignore him and kind of ease into the process, and then you're just observing, and you're seeing what his demeanor and attitude seems like. So you're taking care of yourself at this place, and that's the only thing that you're not trying to take care of him at all.
Right. Hopefully, he's already done that work to realize, this is now about you. I've said to a million ladies, this is about you now. You've made it about him for 30 years, 25 years, 12 years, whatever, 13.
Now it's about you and your children, and it's about time. His time will come. If he responds with noises of repentance, okay, you're still not going to believe it. You're going to be cynical, and you'll stay away from him.
But we'll give him a chance. And if he genuinely is repenting, which means to turn away from the behavior, he will reach out for counseling and help himself, right? Oh, he will.
This is an adult man. He will know what to do. He will make a beeline to his pastor and tell that pastor the truth. He'll rescind all the lies he stated. He'll find a Christian therapist. He will walk with the Lord.
He'll go to a men's group. Repentance is always the same. It's consistent. It never wavers. It never changes. God, of course, will be a key part of that.
That's what you're looking for. Oh, yeah. He will swing into gear, and he'll do it fast. And that's what we're always hoping for. We're hoping for reconciliation.
We want reconciliation, but there has to be repentance in order to have reconciliation. Right. How many ladies have we seen, Gary, go back if they do separate or they get tough for a while, and then they go back, and it's just worse? He's good for a week. He's good for two weeks. Okay, then same old thing. Go back too soon before there's been real change. Right. This time we're going to make sure.
Seven, eight, nine months. He is going to be the next Billy Graham. Or you're not going to have anything to do with him. Let me ask this, Dr. Clark. How can family and friends and church members help in this process? Oh, they can be absolutely vital.
This is part of this team of warriors. Spiritual support. Emotional support. And I tell these people, believe her. Believe what she's saying.
You know her. She's not a liar. Because these narcissists can convince your own family that it's you and not him.
It's unbelievable. To which I say to the lady, you give your family a chance. If they don't believe you, then you cut them off. You're going to find people that believe you.
And practically speaking, Jesus talks about this in the New Testament. If you're going to help somebody, help them. Do you need money? Here's money. Do you need a place to stay? I've got that for you. You need clothing. You need food.
You need insurance. Look, that's what the church is for. Let's step forward. And there's many godly saints in these churches. They're retired.
They have more money. This would be a wonderful ministry to step in and go, you know what? This isn't a loan. This is a gift. We are giving out of our excess and we're going to help you.
This would make a tremendous difference. Help her move. Show up. She'll be fearful of the abuser being around. Look, whatever. Everything can be done with a team of warriors.
Man, that's a huge advantage. In fact, I would guess that it would be very, very difficult for a wife to take that step if she doesn't have some people who are really with her, understand her, and are helping her in the process. Right. She's simply not going to do it.
She'll be unable to do it. Yeah. In your judgment, how often does an abuser actually repent and follow through with that and change and there's genuine reconciliation? Not often. In 35 years, I've had a handful. Out of the hundreds of people I've worked with, maybe even low thousands, yeah, five, six, it's four to six percent and that might be high. That's the bad news.
But the good news is we don't know who it's going to be. We'd love to have that, your guy, be that guy, but yeah, it's a low number. Yeah, yeah. I just had a couple after one year of separation, they're back together and they've been back together now for six months and they're just doing great. It's wonderful. It's wonderful when you see it happen.
Oh yeah, it is. Now, there's a chapter in the book called Here's How to Win Me Back. Tell us about that chapter. This is if the man, you've left him, and he is actually looking like he's breaking, repenting. Now, you're skeptical, but it looks like, okay, maybe he hasn't done the things I expected and maybe he's actually going to, okay.
Through one of your support team members, you're going to give him a list, and of course it's in the book, eight items. Okay, you say you're repentant, here's how you prove it. And these are things that not only prove repentance, but they're actually things he needs to do. I mean, boom, boom, boom, and there are no negotiation. And the message is, look, I'm not giving you any guarantees.
You could do all eight and it might not make any difference. We put him into a corner and we don't let him out. He'll want some guarantee, no guarantees. You could do all of this and I might still not want you back.
So the right guy wouldn't, that wouldn't stop him. I can run through these quickly if you want it. You're going to see a Christian licensed therapist once a week for a minimum of six months. You're going to find out why you were abusive, you're going to fix your problem, and you're going to sign a release so I can get updates from that therapist.
I want to know, I want to know what's going on. Number two, the guy has to write a complete history, the abuser of how he has abused you. Twenty pages, detail with why and how and here's what I've done. There's no excuse. This is a confession of sin. Most of course will not do that.
Tough, because if a guy says, well, but that might be, you might read it to somebody else or use it in court. I say, yeah, who cares? You didn't care. You're not repenting because you just said that. Get out of my office. That's the wrong answer.
I don't care if you put it on the TV news. If I want my wife back, let the world know. That's repentance. And of course, it goes on with you tell the truth of how you've abused me to everybody you have lied to and let me know and have them call me, pastor, church leaders, family, friends.
Celebrate recovery group, another great idea. You're going to be involved. You're going to go through a step study.
Of course, there's a spiritual growth component in church, spiritual growth program, discipleship, one godly man holding you accountable is number six. You fully support me and the kids financially. There'll be no drop off of support in any way and number eight really kills them. You'll sign a legal document agreeing to a fair and equitable division of our assets and a custody agreement in the event of divorce. Now, I don't want a divorce, but it's a legal thing. Here's what's going to happen.
The right guy will do all those and he won't even kick and scream. If there's any blowback, he's not changing. Yeah. I think our listeners can see how helpful this book is. I want to ask one further question as we come to a close of our interview. What do you say to the abuser who may be listening to this program today? I say, look in the mirror. If this is resonating with you, the Holy Spirit's talking to you, admit you are an abuser. That's the first step. Begin a process of brokenness before the Lord. I want you to, if you've got the guts, go to your spouse today and say, Honey, I heard Dr. Chapman and this Clark guy with an E on the end.
Anyway, and they're talking. I think I'm an abuser. Have I emotionally abused you?
That's the question. And if she says yes, boom, you believe her and you start getting help. You can turn the whole thing around without actually having to have her leave you. You could be a wonderful success story. God loves restoration. We're all sinners.
It could happen. But you have to man up or woman up and admit the truth and get some help. Well, Dr. Clark, let me thank you for being with us on the program today. Let me thank you for writing this book.
I think it's going to be helpful to many people. And thank you for the 35 years you've spent working with marriage in crisis. So may God continue to give you wisdom. Thank you so much. I've got to make it to 50 now.
Come to find out. Great! And I thank you, along with many others, for all the work that you do. We love you and we respect you and you're making a huge difference. Well, thank you.
What an important topic today. And if you want to follow up and read more, just go to the website FiveLoveLanguages.com. You'll see Dr. David Clark's book.
That's Clark with an E at the end. Enough is enough. A step-by-step plan to leave an abusive relationship with God's help.
Again, go to FiveLoveLanguages.com. And next week, if you have conflict at work, Dr. Paul White will help you make things right. Don't miss a practical conversation in one week. Before we go, let me thank our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Ton. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
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